Incoming EU leader stands by backstop

The incoming European Commission president has pledged to defend the Brexit backstop and the peace process amid calls for communities to be informed about possible border controls if there is no deal.

Incoming EU leader stands by backstop

The incoming European Commission president has pledged to defend the Brexit backstop and the peace process amid calls for communities to be informed about possible border controls if there is no deal.

Ursula von der Leyen, who is the nominee to lead the commission, said she would not reopen Brexit talks with the UK and its new prime minister. She also said the “precious” backstop, the fallback plan to avoid a hard border, must be defended.

“I think the backstop is of utmost importance and we absolutely know how crucial this nonexistent border is for you,” she said in response to an Irish MEP in Strasbourg.

“Having the backstop in the Brexit deal is precious, important and has to be defended,” she said.

Ms von der Leyen, who is the German defence minister, is set to take over from Jean-Claude Juncker as European commission president on November 1 if her position is approved by the European Parliament.

She told the parliament yesterday that a divorce deal negotiated by outgoing British prime minister Theresa May with EU leaders was “a good one”, in her first public comments on Brexit since being nominated for the role.

However, she also warned the two figures competing to replace Theresa May as prime minister, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, that the “tone and attitude” of Brexit was vital for setting out relations between all sides.

In Dublin, there have been demands that new checks and charges on goods travelling over the Border in the event of a no-deal Brexit must be revealed to traders and hauliers and businesses which are in the dark about government plans.

That is the warning from Fianna Fáil after the Government this week admitted for the first time that some types of controls on goods or live animals will be needed if they are coming from the North.

This will be to protect the EU’s trading frontier, if the UK crashes out of the bloc without a deal and in effect its territories become a third country outside the union.

Brexit spokesperson for Fianna Fáil, Lisa Chambers, said more detail was needed on the EU-Irish talks that are focusing on alternatives if a disorderly Brexit is triggered after October 31.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, the Mayo TD said:

The Tánaiste previously said there may have to be checks in the sea. We want more clarity now with the latest statements. It seems these talks will now go down to the wire once again in September and October.

“But traders, businesses and hauliers and others need to know what is going to happen. They are being told to prepare by the Government but don’t know what to be preparing for. It is disingenuous of the government to ask this.”

Ms Chambers said if there is a disorderly Brexit the EU will need to give Ireland a grace period to arrange a controls regime for trade moving across the island.

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